(Updates with quote from Fernandez)
By Adam Jourdan, Karin Strohecker and Rodrigo Campos
BUENOS AIRES/LONDON/NEW YORK, July 21 (Reuters) – Argentina and its creditors are likely to find a way to seal a $65 billion debt restructuring deal, analysts said, despite a standoff after bondholders joined forces to reject a government proposal and put forward one of their own.
Three major creditor groups on Monday unveiled a joint counteroffer, the first time the trio had unified, lowering their demands but hardening opposition to a “final” offer the government made in early July.
The new proposal closed the gap between two sides’ proposals to within around 3 cents on the dollar in terms of valuation, which most said should be bridged in last-ditch talks. The two sides are currently working toward an Aug. 4 deal deadline.
“We expect that negotiations in coming weeks should ultimately lead to an agreement, given the authorities’ appetite to avoid a chaotic default that would put the economy in further pain,” Morgan Stanley said in a note.
The investment bank calculated the creditors’ new proposal was valued at around 55.8 points at a 10% exit yield, versus 52.4 points for the government’s offer, and that the two sides were “inching closer” to an deal even if more talks were needed.
Argentine over-the-counter bonds rose 0.6% on average on Tuesday after having edged down on Monday.
‘WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD’
Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez and Economy Minister Martin Guzman, who has led the negotiations, have both maintained that the government offer was the maximum effort the recession-hit country could make after slipping into default in May.
Fernandez, speaking at a video conference hosted by the Americas Society/Council of the Americas, reiterated on Tuesday that Argentina cannot offer its creditors a better deal.
“This is what we can do, we cannot do more,” Fernandez said. “We need to get out of this problem, and I want to do it seriously.”
Citi analysts said that this position may soften in coming weeks and that the new counterproposal was a “step in bringing together the two positions.”
“The authorities have stated that the amended proposal presented in early July will not be modified, but we believe this is mostly a negotiation tactic,” the bank added.
A creditor source with knowledge of the talks said that there was confidence both sides could move to find a middle ground between the two proposals.
“It is now really down to where the rubber meets the road. There is a tiny economic difference between the two proposals. There will have to be give on both sides,” the person said, asking not to be named.
The person added that getting a deal done without litigation was in everyone’s best interest and that an agreement could be reached in a matter of days if the government was flexible.
“If both sides are willing to move, they can make a deal quickly,” the person said. (Reporting by Adam Jourdan in Buenos Aires, Karin Strohecker, Tom Arnold and Marc Jones in London and Rodrigo Campos in New York; Additional reporting by Nicolas Misculin, Cassandra Garrison and Jorge Otaola; editing by Jonathan Oatis)
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